Lockerbie bomber: family hopes Megrahi 'will beat cancer' after release from jail
The family of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, hopes he will beat cancer six months after he was released from jail on compassionate grounds.
By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter Telegraph
Published: 10:26AM GMT 27 Feb 2010
His elderly father, Ali, keeps a vigil at his son’s side at the family’s home in Tripoli as Megrahi, 57, battles a serious prostate cancer. The father hopes a “miracle” could happen.
Mr Megrahi Snr was quoted on Saturday as saying: “A close relative was diagnosed with a similar disease and he was treated and recovered completely. We hope that Adbelbaset recovers his health as well.
“I think that the sick are not just cured by medicine, but also having a high morale and a sense of freedom, and these were not available to Abdelbaset in prison.”
Mr Megrahi Snr said that his son was working on his autobiography and remains determined to prove that he had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing of 22 years ago.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed a week ago that Megrahi was living in a luxury villa six months after he was released from jail on compassionate grounds because he had less than three months to live.
He no longer receives hospital treatment after ending the course of chemotherapy that he had been given after returning to his homeland last August.
Professor Karol Sikora, the London-based doctor who examined Megrahi and predicted he would be dead by last October, admitted last weekend that the fact the bomber is still alive might be “difficult” for the families of the 270 victims of the attack.
Our disclosure incensed many of the relatives of those who died in the bomb blast in December 1988 when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded in mid air over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people on the ground.
Most did not want Megrahi released and they suspected he would live longer than the predicted,
It was revealed last September that the Libyan government had paid for the medical evidence which it hoped would enable Megrahi, 57, to be released. The Libyans had encouraged doctors to say he had only three months to live.
The life expectancy of Megrahi was crucial because, under Scottish rules, prisoners can be freed on compassionate grounds only if they are considered to have this amount of time, or less, to live.
However, the Scottish Government says that the report from Professor Sikora and two other doctors on Megrahi’s health was not seen by Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, before he ruled last August that Megrahi should be freed.
Megrahi’s release came after Libyan leaders warned that lucrative oil and trade deals with Britain would be cancelled if the bomber died in jail.
Megrahi, is now living in a spacious two-storey villa with his wife and their five grown-up children in a prosperous suburb of Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Other family members, including his father, are regularly at his side.
Prof Sikora, who was paid a consultancy fee last July to examine Megrahi, told The Sunday Telegraph last weekend: “My information from Tripoli is that it’s not going to be long [before Megrahi dies].
“They stopped any active treatment in December and he has just been going downhill very slowly at home. He is on high doses of morphine [a painkiller] and it’s any day now.”
Prof Sikora said that he suspected that Megrahi was still alive because he had received a “psychological” boost from returning to his homeland and being reunited with his family.
“It’s stimulated him to have a remarkable [short-term] recovery,” he said. “It’s difficult. The choice offered by the letter of the law was either three months to live, or nothing. You couldn’t have a sliding scale.”